25 February 02006

Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates

The title of this article is one of film-maker Werner Herzog's quotes. He rails against the "worn out" images that are served up by TV, and his advice to budding film-makers is, "You will learn more by walking from Canada to Guatemala than you will ever learn in film school," and "Work as a taxi driver, work as bouncer in a sex club, work as a warden in a lunatic asylum: do something which is really into pura vida as the Mexicans would say, into the very pure essence of life" (source).

I thought about Herzog's attitude when reading the following passage from J.D.Lasica's Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation:

Lots of people will experiment with creating visual media. Much of the new video verité will be bad. But some will be watchable, perhaps even addictive. Where big media will continue to offer polished, mass market shows with linear narrative, high production values, and orchestrated story lines, the video of participatory culture will be marked by the quirky, personal, edgy, raw, unpolished, unscripted, unconventional, hyper-realistic, and genuinely surprising. (page 95)

The footage of grizzly bears, and of himself, that Timothy Treadwell shot in Alaska seems to live up to all of Lasica's adjectives.

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21 February 02006

Is it the music or the player that's free?

Eleven months ago, when writing about Magnatune's TunePlug USB Drive that comes pre-loaded with music, I asked the question, "is it possible that we'll start to see promotional products that bundle player and music at prices little more than you would normally pay for the music alone?" Now that Dixons is offering a 512MB MP3 player for £39.99, pre-loaded with music from unsigned bands, that day is more or less here.

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19 February 02006

Is the dust settling on podcasting?

Is it just me or are all the bubbles in the podcasting lather turning into a thin layer of slightly manky detergent on the surface of internet pond life? There was a spell last year, after iTunes first included podcast subscriptions, where the response to everything seemed to be "The solution is to start podcasting — now, what did you say the problem was?" This year there seems to be some sanity creeping into assessments of what podcasts might actually be good for.

Apparently the Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited is going into the Guinness Book of Records as the most downloaded podcast. I subscribed to the podcast a few weeks ago, so I've helped contribute to the record, but I didn't get round to listening to one of the episodes until a couple of days ago. It was crap; like the Wayne's World cable broadcasts, but without the irony. As with most podcasts, I didn't get to the end.

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12 February 02006

Yahoo: music and authenticity

There have been a couple of interesting postings in the last week on the Yahoo! Music Blog — almost as interesting for their candid, open style as for their content.

First, Ian C Rogers outlines the new features of the Yahoo! Music Engine. Ian's blog post seems to take the place of a corporate press release [correction, 14 February 02006: there is also a press release], and it's the antithesis of the normal approach of such press releases: it reads like a personal message from someone who has himself worked hard on the product and genuinely cares about it. It has personal asides (including publicly airing a gripe about another supplier's service), and even the screenshot features the Music Engine playing one of Pere Ubu's finest tracks, which no PR assistant or focus group would ever sanction. Anyone can add a comment to the blog posting, and Ian himself replies quickly to the grumbles.

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6 February 02006

Audio Branding Event, 23 February

In a couple of weeks I'm chairing an event called Sounds Subliminal: Branding the future with audio in London.

The event is about the pros and cons of using sound as part of brand identity. There's an impressive range of speakers, including Dan Jackson of Sonicbrand, who literally wrote the book on sonic branding, and Martyn Ware, now of Illustrious Company. See the event details for a full list of speakers and a link for registration (£80/50).

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2 February 02006

Online radio revisited and updated

It's almost two years since I argued here that online radio is the model for listening to music in the future. I know there aren't many who mark this anniversary as a national holiday, but to me it felt like a point where several things clicked into place in my mind.

There's a fascinating article in today's Guardian, about the rise of digital and online radio, and how this changes the listening experience. While radio listening as a whole (analogue and digital) has not changed much, within that total the amount of listening accounted for by digital (DAB) radio has doubled in a year to just over 10%, and internet radio's share has increased from 1.1% to 1.8%. (Figures in the US show a nearly three-fold increase in online radio listeners over a year.)

Victor Keegan, the article's author, then goes on to explain how aggregation of internet radio provides the potential for listening to the radio to be a database experience rather than a serial one.

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1 February 02006

Publishing your perspective and expertise with Squidoo

Here's another Web-2.0-style tool for aggregating information and links. It's the idea of Seth Godin, who has made his name from a series of books on innovative approaches to marketing in the age of the web. He sees this service, called Squidoo as a means for others to make their names in their areas of expertise — as captured in Squidoo's tagline, "a co-op of everyday experts".

I've created my own Squidoo 'lens', reviewed some other people's, and read Seth's free ebook about the concept behind squidoo. What follows are my reflections on these.

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